I have experience in:
- running research projects;
- preparing policy documents;
- campaigning; and
- media relations
The JusticeGap series
The Justice Gap series is an ongoing series of publications and events. The ideas behind the series are as follows:
- to make a positive and different contribution to the debate to improve ‘access to justice’ for ordinary people;
- to challenge received wisdoms;
- to be thought-provoking; and
- to raise the profile of the issues.
Titles are edited (or co-edited) by Jon Robins and published by the Justice Gap (some with Solicitors Journal). They are all freely available online.
Titles so far include:
- Closing the justice gap: new thinking on an old problem (May 2010). A collection of essays published in 2010 in which contributors were charged with the task of coming up with fresh ideas to improve access to justice for the poor and vulnerable in our society. Contributors included Michael Zander QC, Michael Mansfield QC, Henry Bellingham MP, Roger Smith of JUSTICE, and Sir Geoffrey Bindman.
- Pro Bono: good enough? The uneasy relationship between volunteer legal activity and access to justice (November 2011)
- Unequal before the law? The future of legal aid (June 2011). In 2011 we published the report of an independent commission of inquiry into legal aid comprising Evan Harris, former Liberal Democrat MP; Diana Holland, of the trade union Unite; and the Reverend Professor Nicholas Sagovsky, canon of Westminster Abbey. This followed an event in the House of Commons organised by the Young Legal Aid Lawyers and the Haldane Society.
- Wrongly accused: who is responsible for investigating miscarriages of justice? (May 2012) A collection of essays published in 2012, with launch events in Manchester and London. Contributors included Mr Justice Sweeney, Michael Mansfield QC, and David Jessel.
- Waking up to Public Legal Education (June 2013)
- No defence: lawyers and miscarriages of justice (June 2013)
- Compo Culture: do we really claim too much? (presently commissioning; edited by Jon Robins and Dr Angus Nurse)
- Justice in a time of moral panic (presently commissioning; edited by Jon Robins and Brian Thornton)
‘An excellent publication … a genuinely imaginative collection of essays about how radical, exciting and innovative ways to reform and improve legal aid… And, my God, they are needed.’
‘I salute the editor and the contributors for producing a constructive (and commendably short) book that should be ready by anyone concerned about policymaking on access to justice. We need all the constructive ideas we can get. The book makes a valuable contribution.’
Michael Zander QC
‘[An] excellent and thought-provoking collection of essays by distinguished authors from across the spectrum of involvement and interest. In my view the essays make a valuable contribution to what is a necessary, vital and current debate. I commend them to you.’
Mr Justice Sweeney on Wrongly accused.
We have hosted numerous events over the last three years, such as Justice in the Community: do we get it? in the House of Commons with Diane Abbott MP and Lord Willy Bach. We run an annual debate with the Prisoners’ Advice Service which has had contributors including Judge John Samuels, the Guardian’s Erwin James and Clive Stafford Smith. So far there have been four PAS/ JG debates.
Mind the JusticeGap
Another aspect to the Justice Gap is engaging the public directly in the debate about the law and access to justice. The Mind the JusticeGap project is a public legal education project we run with the Hackney Council, Hackney Community Law Centre and University College London. We have run a series of events in schools in Hackney. See here.
I’m director of Byfield’s Insight reports, part of the Byfield Consultancy which specialises in legal communications. The research company was launched in January 2010 and offers a range of expertise from a number of different disciplines: journalism; research; PR and communications; as well as publishing in both traditional and new media.
The idea behind Byfield Insight is to be the leading source of considered, independent-minded and thought-provoking commentary on the law in a way that informs and influences debate within the profession and beyond.
Byfield has published a series of reports and white papers over the last three years commissioned by City law firms, barristers’ chambers and publishers on a number of different subjects from the future of legal services (Big Bang: Opportunities and threats in the legal services market; and Shopping around: what consumers really want from lawyers) to the legal framework surrounding safeguarding children (Safe from harm: 10 years after Soham).
Clients include Epoq, Fox Williams LLP, IBB Solicitors, Hardwicke Chambers, and LexisNexis. Reports are downloadable here.
As well as being the author of People Power: how to run a campaign and make a difference in your community (LawPack/ Daily Telegraph), I was director of campaigns and communications at the Legal Action Group, which seeks to promote access to justice and a fairer legal system.
Access to justice
I am editor and director of LegalVoice (www.legalvoice.org.uk), an online magazine aimed at legal aid lawyers and the legal not-for-profit sector.
The site was set up in May 2012 to assist legal aid firms and advice agencies to cope with the legal aid cuts introduced under the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of offenders Act. It is supported by about 30 representative groups, including the Law Society and Bar Council.
I was editor for two years of Independent Lawyer, a 32-page colour monthly magazine aimed at legal aid lawyers published by the Mark Allen Group. The editorial board included prominent campaigning lawyers such as Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers, Roger Smith of JUSTICE and the former Law Society president Michael Napier.